The Punjab Project

Blogged by: Amol Singh

A new generation of Sikh youth is coming up to age in a diaspora still unable to decently reflect or respond to the tragedies that have befallen the Panth. Although, cognizant of the injustices done to Sikhs, we have categorically failed at identifying a half-way legitimate vision for our institutions.The following is a humble attempt at one such institution, hinted at by an older post.

NPR_Punjab_Cancer_Train.jpg

Much of Punjabs money flow is due to remittances from family members scattered across the globe. However, remittances are easily subjected to ebb and flows in the worlds markets and these flows of money to Punjab can be easily disrupted by economic downturns. In addition, Punjab receives little attention from international development agencies. For instance, there are currently a total of two World Bank projects targeting the state. Unfortunately, Punjab is receiving more attention from MNCs and the introduction of SEZs inside the state is unnerving to many who believe that they foreshadow an increase in neoliberal market practices favoring large corporations.

In my opinion, Punjab needs an insertion of human and financial capital that can ignite a grassroots based economic revival that quantifies development on the creation of ecologically friendly infrastructure. To being the process for these goals, I propose the creation of a development bank.

For South Asia, development aid lags far behind foreign direct investment, private equity and remittances. By creating projects generating sustainable economic development, Punjabis (and not large corporations, the Center, or perpetually flawed state governments) become the determinants of the state’s growth. For example, the recent call by panthic bodies for more Sikh responsibility in fighting climate change was an encouraging sign. However, without conceiving and providing the money for projects which actually target emissions, these encouraging calls will provide little in tangible results. Now, lets envision a scenario where increased societal desires for climate change are subsequently followed with a concrete model (perhaps launching Nanak Kheti projects to usher in a true Green Revolution). By supporting both individual entrepreneurial aspirations and community based projects, we initiate the first steps toward a sustainable model for grassroots development. The following is a very small sampling of current development projects throughout Asia, Africa and Latin American which can be adapted and replicated for Punjab.

Agriculture

Energy

Environmental

Health

Urban Planning

A common refrain stated by those in the diaspora (especially students) is their inability to effect change in Punjab. An advantage of having an adequate development bank is the ability to create these linkages. Imagine the potential for inserting students in Peacecorps/Fullbright-esque programs throughout Punjab within their respective service areas. It seems incredible that we could possibly envision Environmental Economics majors working to provide models for safely using the resources of Kali Bein; Urban Planning students working with planning agencies in Anandpur Sahib or Public Health students working alongside cancer researchers to study the effects of aggressive pesticide use on Bathindas farmers.

By determining new and creative ways to utilize the vast amount of money flowing through the diaspora, we initiate the first steps towards creating lasting institutions based on our own guidelines and ethics. By beginning to exert control over the spaces that we hold sacred, we achieve the first steps towards self-sufficiency. Rather than clamoring for an illusionary wand which is going to magically grant us our own nation, how about we begin the tougher task of creating institutions without which, any state would be rendered useless.


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8 Responses to “The Punjab Project”

  1. Haridner says:

    Yes "GREAT INSTITUTIONS" with a creative and talented population is the right approach.

  2. Haridner says:

    Yes “GREAT INSTITUTIONS” with a creative and talented population is the right approach.

  3. Barinder says:

    Sounds good. For those interested how can they get involved?

  4. Barinder says:

    Sounds good. For those interested how can they get involved?

  5. Jaspreet says:

    If you want a worthy institution to support I can give you two:

    http://www.sikhcoalition.org http://www.sikhri.org

  6. Jaspreet says:

    If you want a worthy institution to support I can give you two:

    http://www.sikhcoalition.org
    http://www.sikhri.org

  7. Ishar says:

    Punjab will prospoer and continues to prosper. Sikhs unite and lets build a super punjab

  8. Ishar says:

    Punjab will prospoer and continues to prosper. Sikhs unite and lets build a super punjab